Archive for the 'Quilting & sewing' Category

“Recent” quilts

January 5th, 2014

In spite of the slightly ominous noise my sewing machine has been making lately (yet another sign it really, really, really is time to get it serviced), I’ve been on something of a quilting spree. Realistically, at least some of these are from summer, and others I don’t even remember when I finished; they just never got photographed. But I won’t tell if you won’t.

1. Undesignated, gender-neutral, stash-busting quilt

Because really, you can never have too many of those.


2. Baby quilt for Alexis

I’m late, as usual; Alexis was toddling around at New Year’s when she got her quilt. In my defense, I started planning way in advance, started a quilt, and realized the solid fabric I’d bought was a cotton-poly blend when it shrunk during pressing. Oops. Since the print fabrics are an assortment of beautiful Liberty of London fabrics printed with Hello Kitty motifs that I’d purchased from Japan, it seemed a shame to pair them with the magical shrinking solid. So I ordered more Hello Kitty fabric, recast the original blocks for the back of the quilt, and came up with this:


Alexis’s mom, my cousin Stacy, loves both pink and Hello Kitty, so it seemed appropriate. Heck, I’m not a huge fan of either, but even I have to admit, the fabric is really, really cute. (So is Alexis.)



3. Baby quilt for Harper

My colleague Steve and his wife Amanda just had their second baby. I managed this quilt on time! I adore this fabric combination, which I got in a bundle from Fabricworm, one of my go-to sources for quilt fabric. (FYI Mom, they have a brick-and-mortar location in Paso Robles.)


I spent a lot of time pondering how to quilt this one, and I finally went with outlining the stars, flowers inside the stars and on the solid blue blocks, and a continuous-line leaf pattern everywhere else. Time-consuming, but thematic. I likes it.



4. One of my favorites from the reserve pile

Justifying my policy of always having quilts to spare, Matt’s rowing friends Dan and Rose recently had a baby girl. (It’s a good thing they had a girl, actually, since I think I’m fresh out of boy and/or gender-neutral quilts.) So we went digging through my pile of finished quilts and decided on this one:


I just love this pattern; it’s simple to make, but doesn’t look boring, and it has just enough white space to look fresh and light and modern without making you think, “Look at all those places a baby can vomit!” Plus, the fabric is by Kate Spain, one of my favorite designers. And I’m really proud of the vaguely-scrappy binding, the placement looks very intentional, even though it was a total accident.  :)

I’d really like to do more quilting, actually, but between going back to school, the ominous sewing machine noise, and the fact that my cutting table is covered with Christmas tree ornament boxes, it’s probably going to have to wait for a while. (Sad face.)

Blog backlog: I’m not dead yet! edition

November 30th, 2013

School is kicking my butt like you wouldn’t believe this year (I have my contractual maximum of 170 kids, and it’s murder), plus I’m just generally a bad blogger. So sue me.

In case you were wondering, Halloween has officially been my least favorite holiday since I began teaching middle school. (It’s closely rivaled by Valentine’s Day.) There’s a lot of hype and a lot of sugar, resulting in a lot of rowdy kids and candy wrappers everywhere. I hate it. Nonetheless, when the ASB kids made Halloween week a spirit week, I jumped right in (I love spirit weeks), even though it meant I had to come up with not one, not two, but three costumes.

Actually, I ended up making four. Monday was Pajama Day.


I’ve been obsessed with Phineas and Ferb ever since my kids last year chose to watch a Phineas and Ferb movie for the last two days of school. So when I found this fabric at Joann’s at the same time I had a 60% off coupon, it was a no-brainer.

Tuesday was Teacher-Student Day, explained as “Teachers dress like students, and students dress like teachers.”


I found leopard-print leggings at a discount store. (They’re my new favorite pajama pants, so I’m not even wasting them. In fact, I’m wearing them right now.) The gigantic hoop earrings are from Target (and they hurt!), and the rest of the effect is just details — high bun, lots of eye makeup, and my phone. :) I must have done well; my kids periodically suggest that I should wear the leopard print leggings again.

Wednesday was Rock Star Day.

rock star

The skirt I made — Halloween discount tulle (with skulls!) and clearance fabric with metallic raised dots. The shirt was a fortuitous Target clearance find, the jacket is Matt’s, the necklace has a glittery spider on it and I had it from Halloween last year. I did have to buy red lipstick, though, and it is not fun to wear. (Difficult to apply and gets everywhere.) The kids preferred the student look, but this was the favorite of the teachers.

Thursday was Halloween, and the sad thing is, the costume I spent a great deal of time on was totally eclipsed by the student and rock star looks. Oh well.

Still, this one has a tail. You can’t beat that.

The original pattern came with a ruffly skirt, which I omitted. (Although. . . guess where I got the inspiration for my rock star skirt?)

Long story short, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing and very little blogging. I wouldn’t expect that to change any time soon.

On “commission”

July 16th, 2013

In addition to my recent garment sewing kick (and I have a finished dress that’s just awaiting photography, so stay tuned), I’ve been doing some quilting this summer. Actually, I got a head start on summer quilting thanks to a “commission” (there was no money involved) — my principal retired this year, and the VP organizing her party thought she’d like a quilt.

Mary closeup

Since I didn’t get much lead time (“So. . . how long does it take you to whip out a quilt?” my VP wanted to know, two weeks before the party), I decided to keep it simple. I bought a charm pack in colors that theoretically match my principal’s RV, and gave the staff cream solid fabric, taped off into five inch squares. It’s not really to my taste, but I still thought it came out well. And thus ends “commission” number one.

(There’s no full quilt shot because I didn’t manage any decent photos. But if you want a bad one. . . here you go.)

“Commission” number two should probably have come first, because I accepted it about a year ago. Jen wanted a quilt to display Aiden’s special baby clothes, which I was happy to do (and to be fair to me, I did warn her it would probably take forever). I was a little apprehensive about starting it, because I didn’t want to make any mistakes with irreplaceable special clothes, but once I did start, it pretty much flew by. And I love it.


Ohmygoodness, where to start? I had two major challenges with this quilt. For starters, not everything was t-shirt material, which is pretty easy to work with. There were a few (adorable) fleecy outfits, and a few with fasteners through the main motif. On top of that, all the clothing pieces were different sizes and shapes.

I finally decided to use each piece as a base and fill out around it with coordinating stash fabric; each block finished at 12″ square. That solved the size and shape problem, and also meant that I could place zippers and fleece in the center of the block, and not have to deal with it when I joined blocks together. (That was a good decision. Sewing over zippers is a bear. Not just any bear, either. A very angry bear who just had his fish stolen.)

I’m especially proud of the vampire block and the fleecy lion block (brown striped background), because both came from onesies with super-cute feet. The vampires are, well, vampires, and the lion onesie said “Mommy’s mane man” on the soles. I appliqued both on a background piece to make them easier to include in the quilt, and I’m so glad I did; it’s a nice touch and keeps the blocks from looking too angular.

Those aren’t my favorite blocks, though. I put my favorites in the center: the lion block and the Mario block.

Mario block

The green mushroom is from a onesie Matt and I bought Aiden, as a Christmas present, I think. The fire flower and red mushroom are pieces I made to 1) match; and 2) fill out the block. (Thank goodness for 8-bit, and that’s all I have to say about that.)

lion block

I love the symmetry (thematic and visual) the blue elephant brings to this block; it’s fussy cut from a fabric I’ve had in stash for years (I think I made shorts out of it when I was in college. . . or maybe high school?), and I’m a big fan of bright primary colors. I’m also super happy to have found a deserving home for these elephants.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m enormously pleased with myself, so I hope Jen and Andrew are just as happy. And Aiden, of course, but personally, I think Aiden is going to prefer the other half of his birthday present:

birthday rawr

Greyhound walk and photo shoot — to musical accompaniment

June 23rd, 2013

Although there’s apparently a massive storm on the way, it hasn’t started yet, so Matt and I thought we’d take the dogs to the river before we get rained in. Since the light was nice, I thought the walk could do double duty as a photo shoot for my new top. An evening walk by the river is always nice, but tonight, we got bonus musical entertainment!

band practice

It’s the Moonlight Classic (34th annual!) which, amusingly, Sacramento apparently stole from Stockton last year, and then promptly screwed up due to an inability to turn on the stadium lights.

At any rate, it was nice to listen to, and since it didn’t seem to bother Sophie, we were free to actually enjoy it. Aside from the music, it was your bog-standard greyhound river walk. The dogs sniffed,

nose work

I posed for pictures,


and we all came home in a car that smells like wet dog. Happy Sunday, everyone.

Oh, that’s right. . .

June 23rd, 2013

. . . I don’t really like garment sewing.

finished tank

I gave up on making my own clothes years ago because I lack both the skills, and, more critically, the patience. Case in point: this is a really simple piece of clothing — two pieces, one with darts; four seams; one hem; three bound edges — and it took what seemed like forever. To finish the seams nicely, I did faux French seams on the shoulders and sides, and bias binding on the neck and arms. Were either of them difficult? No. Do I like the way they look? Absolutely. Did I find them both extremely tedious? Yes.

I also made a significant number of rookie mistakes: I forgot to add seam allowances when I cut, so this is the original, minus ⅜” per seam. I think I actually like the slightly more fitted version, but it affected the neckline and I don’t love that. I accidentally made double-fold bias tape rather than single fold, so I had to finish the neck and arms twice. These things happen when you don’t make a muslin, which was a calculated risk I took because I was sewing a copy of a shirt that I know fits. (Knitters: it’s like not making a gauge swatch.)

Anyway, I don’t love it, but it took care of the sewing itch, so I’m calling it a win.

Pattern drafting

June 21st, 2013

Everyone in the quilting blogosphere, it seems, is talking about voile tanks at the moment, so I thought I’d like to get my hand in. My main problem, besides lack of time/inclination/material, is that I’m too lazy to find a pattern and too cheap to pay $10 for the popular patterns I’ve seen.

Summer solved the lack of time. My sewing kick solved the lack of inclination. A trip to Joann’s to stock up on zippers today solved the lack of material, as I found a super lightweight Swiss dot fabric for half off. And thus, we returned to the pattern problem.

I’ve never drafted a pattern before, but I do have a few easy tops I’d like to duplicate. So I dug around on the interwebs and read up a bit, and when Kevin and Matt went to see Star Trek Into Darkness in 3D (which makes me vomit), I drafted a pattern. It’s not much to look at.


I was going to start this tonight, but then I realized that I should probably prewash garment fabric. (I’m out of the habit of prewashing quilt fabric, and it has made me so, so happy.) So I guess I’m adding it to the list.


June 21st, 2013

I’ve been on a small crafting kick of late; my newest addiction is little zippered pouches. I’d hoped to make a pencil pouch for my TA this year as part of her end-of-year present, but I didn’t have time. It was too good of an idea to waste, though, so I made it anyway.


And then, because I was on a roll but out of applique ideas, I went to Google and did an image search for “kawaii.” No shortage of ideas there. . .


. . . although I think this one is my personal favorite.


I have exactly zero use for three pencil pouches, kawaii or otherwise, so I think I’m going to post them on my teacher Facebook page and let my kids fight over them (or something). I’m done with these for a while, but I’ll likely revisit them; they were very satisfying to make — cute, all scraps, and super quick. That’s a Kim win!

Ships that pass in the night

June 20th, 2013

That’s what Matt and I have been lately; I’ve been sleeping more than I’ve been awake, so in spite of my being on vacation, we haven’t had much quality time. And all the napping I’ve done recently finally caught up with me — I couldn’t sleep last night. (To be fair to me, I think at least some of the “napping” has been sleeping off a cold. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

At any rate, I gave up trying to sleep around 1:30 last night and headed into my sewing room, armed with my laptop (for Stargate reruns) and my phone (for a sewing tutorial).

By the time a very confused looking Matt poked his head into the sewing room at 4:45, I had this:

pink side


Somehow, thorough the genius of the fabric designer, it manages to have completely different colors on the opposite side, and still look completely fabulous.

green side


Aaaand. . . drum roll, please! The interior is waterproof.


(Realistically, it’s probably water resistant, but at any rate, it’s laminated cotton, so I’m thinking water won’t be much of a problem.)

I bought the laminated fabric originally with the intention of making a pouch to hold my swimsuit — it’s water fitness season! — and I still think it’s a great idea, and I love, love, love this pouch — but. . . it’s too small.  And I’m just a weeny bit short of the fabric I’d need to make a bigger one, (and of course the outer fabric is out of print) so I have some thinking to do before I try this again.

But in the meantime, I’ve got this cute little bag!

I won a contest I didn’t even know I entered

May 2nd, 2013

(and it wasn’t the Spanish National Lottery, either).

Actually, it wasn’t even really a contest.


But I’m excited anyway.  :)

Mass production

September 3rd, 2012

This has been a very productive summer for me in terms of quilting (and essentially nothing else).  I’ve finished a lot of projects that were in progress, and even managed a handful of new ones.  Collections of pre-cut fabric pieces help, because they reduce the cutting required, and give a nice scrappy look without requiring that I identify and cut a bunch of fabrics.

No intended recipient on this one.  It’s from a nice pattern I found on Etsy.

This one’s not slated for anyone yet, either.  (Everyone I know is having boys.)  I love the bright, happy colors, the graphic patterns, and the fact that this was insanely easy to make but looks complicated.  My quilting philosophy is that the best quilt is the nicest-looking result one can get from the least amount of work.  This is a good exemplar of that philosophy.

This one I finished a while back, actually, but I liked it so much, I wanted to wait until I found someone worthy of it before giving it away.  It’s going to Matt’s college roommate Andrew and his wife Crystal.  (Always assuming I get it in the mail; this one might make it there before the birth if I’m prompt.)  It’s made from 2.5″ strips, which came in a collection of 42, but this quilt only used half.

The other half, believe it or not, went into this one:

I got the patterns from a book, and I’m really pleased with the way they came out.  I like the first better than the second, but both are quite nice.

No intended recipient on the second one yet, either.  I’m building up quite the stash.

I also made a few more traditional quilts, from one of my favorite pattens.  Four fabrics, one block — about as easy as it gets, but I love the look.

This is going to our college friend Rob and his wife Cassie, and it’s late, as per my usual M.O.

Same pattern, but using fabric I’ve had stashed for years now:

This I think I’m sending to my high school friend Amanda, just because she was pointing out way back in high school that she’d liked Classic Pooh way before it was cool.  It just doesn’t feel right to let anyone else decide what to do with this one.  :)

And last, but not least, my absolute favorite.  It’s for my colleague Sean and his wife Catherine’s third baby, and it’s very, very, very late, but I’ll be forgiven, because both of the older kids got fantastic quilts themselves.  Catherine is so appreciative of the quilts, I’ve been having a mini-contest with myself to up the ante each time.  I hope they’re done having kids, because I don’t think I can top this one.

This is my first try at applique in a long time, and I’m really pleased with how the name turned out.  I also love the British-themed fabric (Catherine is from England, so it’s very appropriate) — it has Big Ben!  And black cabs!  And double-decker buses!

This will probably be it for quilting for quite a while, since I go back to school tomorrow.  Probably just as well; I think even I’ve had enough for a while.

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